What to do With a Nice Rep Who Just Can’t Sell?

sales manager

What to do With a Nice Rep Who Can’t Sell?

I love sales managers. They are great people who are dedicated to helping salespeople succeed and drive sales performance/sales in organizations.

One thing that drives me crazy is when I work with sales managers who are reluctant to fire reps who are not performing and will never be good at sales because they a good at admin and responsive to their manager.

I understand that sales managers want to do their best for their people, especially when they have a sales rep who is responsive to requests and is on top of their admin. Added to the challenge is that the rep is a nice person and does what they are asked to do.

Sales managers tend to procrastinate on firing responsive sales reps even if they are not performing. The sales manager feels bad, so they try to prove they did everything they could to save the rep, and this drags out the process anywhere from 3 to 12 months.

On the flip side, sales managers are far more ready to act on an average rep who doesn’t get their admin done versus a sales rep who is an ineffective rep who makes up for their lack of competencies by doing all the necessary admin. Every sales force has it, yes, a sales rep who is a nice person. Yet, they have little impact on their customers or the performance of their territory.

I am an advocate of sales managers effectively coaching their salespeople to become better sales reps. We all know that coaching has a tremendous impact on overall performance, and it is a time-consuming process with the potential for incredible success.

Most sales managers find it easier to fire a sales rep who is an average performer but has a bad attitude, is harmful and is a pain in the ass for management.

The reality is, sometimes we hire sales reps who have chosen the wrong career, and in other circumstances, the expectation and role of sales have evolved, leaving some sales reps unable to meet the new expectations.

Managers often struggle with what to do under these circumstances. Many will have heart-to-heart conversations with their sales rep and provide feedback about areas they need to improve. The sales rep may understand and appreciate the chance to meet expectations, but the problem is they don’t have what it takes.

Enough said.

Time to Act!

Let me start by saying I am open to alternative views and don’t mind opening myself up to criticism.

To me, the answer is clear. As a manager, you need to ask yourself the tough questions:

  • What critical skills, behaviours, and competencies must my reps have to be part of the sales team? Create a list.
  • How does this rep stack up against those must-haves?
  • Can they fill the gap in short order?
  • Have you been able to recruit sales reps who are more aligned with your needs?
  • Have your customers and other reps given you negative feedback on the rep?

After answering these questions, the decision should be clear.

Deep in your gut, you know the right decision for the company, the rep, and yourself.

So Why the Angst?

It could be procrastination, fear, lack of leadership or lack of buy-in from your boss or HR. I don’t care. As a STAR sales leader, you need to be proactive and put on your performance hat and do what you need to do.

In the end, you might find that:

  • The individual will thank you as they were not happy in a job in which they were performing poorly.
  • Your team will say what took you so long.
  • Your customers will say that you are listening.
  • And you won’t become the problem for not acting.

How do you handle this type of sales rep?

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Steven Rosen 2022

Hi, I’m Steven Rosen, and I’ve been coaching sales executives for over 20 years!


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Steven Rosen - Executive Sales Coach


Steven A. Rosen

Steven helps companies transform sales managers into great sales leaders. His focused coaching helps clients achieve greater personal and professional success. Steven is the author of 52 Sales Management Tips - The Sales Manager’s Success Guide.

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